Muscle, joint, nerve and tendon pain typically affects everyone at some point in their life. Whether you lead an active lifestyle, have a physically demanding job, or suffer from conditions that affect your mobility, you’ve likely searched for pain relief and may not yet have found something that works. Oral medication can be expensive, have major side effects and be addictive. That’s why whenever possible, we turn to pain relief cream first in an effort to find some reprieve without making a visit to the doctor’s office.
Pain relief cream is applied topically and typically treats acute musculoskeletal pain, including arthritis, carpal tunnel, backaches, strained and sprained muscles, and sore tendons and joints. Creams may include methyl salicylate for its cooling effect, capsaicin, which produces a warming sensation, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Some creams include both cooling and warming ingredients which act as counterirritants that help to distract the brain from pain signals.
Whether you are using a pain relief cream that includes medication or a homeopathic option, it’s always important to read the ingredients and the instructions to make sure it is appropriate for you and that you are using the product in the correct way. Pain relief creams typically should not be applied to broken skin or be used under a tight bandage. It’s also important to never use a pain relief cream in conjunction with a heating pad as this can cause burns. Users who are allergic to aspirin or taking blood thinners should always consult with their medical professional before using a pain relief cream.
If you’re tired of dealing with aches and pains, a pain relief cream might be right for you. Check out our top picks below.
1. Penetrex Pain Relief Therapy
For a pain relief cream that works fast and can be used on multiple injuries and inflamed areas, we like Penetrex Pain Relief Therapy. The fan-favorite product includes arnica, which helps to reduce swelling and pain, as well as choline, which can reduce inflammation. It also includes B6, which can be used to treat several conditions that cause pain, including sciatica and other nerve and back-related issues. Non-greasy, non-staining, and designed with a vanishing scent, Penetrex can be massaged into the skin to help treat common ailments, including carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, tendonitis, and bursitis.
2. Aspercreme with Lidocaine Maximum Strength Pain Relief Cream
BEST ODOR-FREE OPTION
Pain relief creams often come with a strong scent, but Aspercreme with Lidocaine Maximum Strength Pain Relief Cream delivers fast and effective treatment without the smell. The long-lasting and non-greasy cream includes lidocaine, which helps to stop itching caused by skin issues, including minor burns and eczema. Lidocaine also causes a temporary numbness in the area where it’s applied topically, which can provide pain relief for arthritis, sore joints, and muscles, sprains and strains.
3. Boiron Arnicare Cream
BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
For a homeopathic approach to pain relief that won’t aggravate sensitive skin, we recommend Boiron Arnicare Cream. Arnica has been used as a natural pain reliever for thousands of years and works fast to help alleviate pain caused by osteoarthritis. In addition to decreasing swelling, Arnicacare also has antibiotic properties and can be used to treat small cuts and bruises, making it a great dual product for the medicine cabinet. Boiron Arnicare is plant-based, non-greasy, unscented, and paraben-free, making it a great fit for sensitive skin.
4. Voltaren Diclofenac Sodium Topical Arthritis Pain Relief Gel
BEST MEDICATED OPTION
For times when you need extra-strength pain relief, we recommend Voltaren Diclofenac Sodium Topical Arthritis Pain Relief Gel. A medicated cream that does not require a prescription, Voltaren is ideal for rare occasions when more natural pain remedies are not providing enough reprieve. The non-greasy cream works fast to alleviate arthritis pain, as well as other conditions caused by inflammation, including carpal tunnel.
5. Icy Hot Extra Strength Pain Relief Cream
Using two main ingredients of menthol and camphor, Icy Hot cools the skin and then delivers a pleasant warming feeling. These two counterirritants work together to distract users from feelings of pain and soreness, providing fast-acting relief. Safe for use multiple times per day, Icy Hot works on sore and strained muscles and joints.
6. Biofreeze Pain Relief Cream
BEST COOLING CREAM
Made with 4 percent menthol, Biofreeze works fast to deliver a cooling sensation that helps to relax tender joints, tendons, and muscles. The cream provides a cooling sensation to inflamed areas that help to relieve users. Unlike many of its competitors, Biofreeze is made without the use of NSAIDs or parabens. Because of this, the cream can be used multiple times per day and works with both small and large muscle areas.
7. Neuropathy Pain Relief Cream
BEST FOR NERVE PAIN
Nerve issues can cause pain and soreness throughout the body. Neuropathy Pain Relief Cream is designed to activate a sensory path below the skin surface in an area where the nerves have been affected. The cream stimulates the nerves, bringing blood flow back to the area, helping to regenerate and heal them. Using Arnica, B6, aloe vera and vitamin E, Neuropathy acts like a local anesthetic and helps to reduce inflammation and swelling.
8. Blue Emu Original Analgesic Cream
BEST POST-WORKOUT CREAM
Stop tired and sore muscles from getting in the way of your next workout by using Blue Emu Original Analgesic Cream. Emu oil has been used for thousands of years to help relieve temporary aches and pains. In the past, it has even been used as a natural moisturizer and sunscreen. Blue Emu also includes aloe vera and calendula oil, providing an odor-free and non-greasy topical cream that can be used multiple times per day to soothe sore muscles.